BookDragon Books for the Diverse Reader

Death Comes in through the Kitchen by Teresa Dovalpage [in Booklist]

Matt Sullivan, a San Diego–based, bilingual tabloid features writer, arrives in 2003 Havana with ring and wedding dress in hand for his Cuban fianceé, Yarmi, only to find her lifeless body in the bathtub. Considered charming, chatty, and caring by all who knew her, Yarmi, an English translator at Havana’s Institute of Language and Linguistics and a food blogger, seems to have had no enemies. When Matt becomes a person of interest with both the police and la Seguridad (secret service), he hires Padrino, a retired detective who’s also a Santería priest, to find Yarmi’s murderer.

Although the Havana-born, New Mexico-based Dovalpage falters occasionally in her plotting – the disturbingly clumsy suggestion that the rape of a 12-year-old boy by the family’s male servant leads years later to an inevitable homosexual liaison, a buffoonish correlation between the Culinary Institute of America and the Central Intelligence Agency, extraneous narrative meanderings by too many minor characters – she creates a mélange of clashing cultures, multilayered deception, even traditional Cuban recipes, that are both entertainment and a revealing exposé of how a strangled society bypasses laws to survive, and dare to enjoy, daily life.

Review: “Fiction,” Booklist Online, February 27, 2018

Readers: Adult

Published: 2018


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